Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling in His New Online Course

How has Neil Gaiman, author of fic­tion in a vari­ety of forms rang­ing from nov­els and short sto­ries to com­ic books, radio plays, and films, man­aged to win over such a large and devot­ed fan base? Ask a mem­ber of that fan base, and you’ll more than like­ly hear an expla­na­tion along the lines of, “He knows how to tell a sto­ry.” That may sound like a sim­ple skill, but telling a sto­ry at Gaiman’s lev­el requires a deep-root­ed exper­tise in the essen­tial nature and still-unex­plored pos­si­bil­i­ties of sto­ry­telling itself — an exper­tise that Gaiman him­self has late­ly proven more than will­ing to share. A few years ago we fea­tured his lec­ture “How Sto­ries Last” here on Open Cul­ture; now, he’s come out with an online course on the art of sto­ry­telling at Mas­ter­Class.

“Human beings are sto­ry­telling crea­tures,” Gaiman says in the course’s trail­er above. “Sto­ries are vital. We con­vey truth with sto­ries. That is the mag­ic of fic­tion.” But even the author of sto­ries like The Sand­manNev­er­whereStar­dust, Amer­i­can Gods, Cora­line, and much more besides has cer­tain admis­sions to make about the prac­tice of writ­ing them: “Writ­ing a nov­el is like dri­ving through the fog with one head­light out,” for exam­ple.

“You can’t see very far ahead of your­self. But every now and again, the mists will clear.” And when it comes time to revise, he explains, “the process of doing your sec­ond draft is the process of mak­ing it look like you knew what you were doing all along.” What do you need most to make it through this har­row­ing process? The “con­vic­tion that you are bril­liant.”

Not that you don’t need any­thing else. The nine­teen lessons of Gaiman’s Mas­ter­Class cov­er every­thing from “using the ‘lie’ of a made-up sto­ry to tell a human truth,” to “how to over­come the fear of mak­ing mis­takes,” to tech­niques like “cold opens, with­hold­ing infor­ma­tion, find­ing emo­tion­al weight, and choos­ing mem­o­rable details,” to the art of world­build­ing, which Gaiman describes as “hon­est­ly, the joy of get­ting to play god.” Oth­er lessons pro­vide case stud­ies focus­ing on his short sto­ries, nov­els, and com­ic books, all of which have no doubt inspired many to tell sto­ries them­selves. But who, hear­ing Gaiman talk about sto­ry­telling, could pos­si­bly resist try­ing their hand at it?

You can sign up for Gaiman’s course here.

You can take this class by sign­ing up for a Mas­ter­Class’ All Access Pass. The All Access Pass will give you instant access to this course and 85 oth­ers for a 12-month peri­od.

FYI: If you sign up for a Mas­ter­Class course by click­ing on the affil­i­ate links in this post, Open Cul­ture will receive a small fee that helps sup­port our oper­a­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

18 Sto­ries & Nov­els by Neil Gaiman Online: Free Texts & Read­ings by Neil Him­self

Neil Gaiman Presents “How Sto­ries Last,” an Insight­ful Lec­ture on How Sto­ries Change, Evolve & Endure Through the Cen­turies

Neil Gaiman Reads “The Man Who For­got Ray Brad­bury”

Where Do Great Ideas Come From? Neil Gaiman Explains

How to Write a Best­selling Page Turn­er: Learn from The Da Vin­ci Code Author Dan Brown’s New Mas­ter­class

Mar­garet Atwood Offers a New Online Class on Cre­ative Writ­ing

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (3)
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  • Xael says:

    90$ ?! A bit expen­sive for a “free cul­tur­al media on the web”…

  • Pinar Akalin says:

    I would Love to enroll on the online course of Neil Gay­man. What are the oth­er cours­es offered? I might take the 1 Year option to get access to oth­er cours­es of inter­est

  • James Benson says:

    you can only learn by your­self! Or will be a copy of oth­ers!… Is nice to watch Neil talk­ing, but not teach­ing! Or you’re a god, or you’re not!

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